December 24, 2010
These days, with Christmas getting more and more commercial, it's occasionally hard to keep track of all the reasons to celebrate. One of the big reasons though is a very special birthday. The birth of something that changed the world. I'm referring, of course, to the birth of the world wide web. [more inside]
Merry Christmas from Shallow Gravy (aka Hank Venture and best friend-slash-spoiler alert Dermott) and most of the cast of The Venture Bros. that Doc Hammer and Jackson Publick could assemble without calling anyone else. [more inside]
Put aside your hate for one evening. O Holy Night by Celine Dion, Susan Boyle, Josh Groban, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, Mariah Carey, Jewel, Faith Hill, John Williams, Jessica Simpson, a 7 year old, Eric Cartman, Aretha Franklin & Billy Preston, Steve Maudlin (sp?) [more inside]
This Christmas Eve spare a thought for the Chrildren of Iceland, who will be suffering a traumatising visit from Kertasníkir, or "Candle Beggar", the thirteenth and final of the strange and somewhat sinister Icelandic Santas, or Yule lads, who are the childre of the ogress Gryla. Most of them don't seem to care if you've been bad or good - mainly they want to steal your food and wreck stuff. [more inside]
It was sixty-five years ago tonight that a child was born in the little town of Burslem [more inside]
In the 1970s Edwin Land constructed the Moby C: the world's largest instant camera. Not to be confused with its smaller cousin, this one-of-a-kind Polaroid produces incredible 40x80 (1:1) prints. After serving nearly 20 years as "the museum camera", Joe McNally put it to the task of heroic portraiture. He's again employed it to take some beautiful ballerina photos.
Amidakuji, or "Ghost Leg," is a lottery party game from Japan. At the top of a sheet there are a number of spaces for people to write their names. At the bottom there are prizes. There are an equal number of each. Between them is a map obscured behind a sheet. The map is made of straight vertical lines connecting the names and prizes. Connecting those lines at random intervals are horizontal lines. When it's time to pick winners, the sheet is removed and players can follow the lines to find their prize. You follow the line from your name down until you encounter any horizontal line, which you must follow, then continue down, continuing to follow all horizontal lines you encounter, until you reach your prize. No two horizontal lines can touch. Provided that, the process is perfectly deterministic and reversable. The same ends are reached whether you follow from the top down or the bottom up. If you have difficulty visualizing this, check the Wikipedia page. [more inside]
The recently released motion picture Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale is based on two short films by director Jalmari Helander: Rare Exports Inc. (2003) [previously] and Rare Exports: Official Safety Instructions (2005). (NSFW due to naked Santa)
On Christmas Eve, exactly 100 years ago, Luisa Tetrazzini, the most famous opera singer of her day, sang in the streets of San Francisco as a gift to the city she loved. 250,000 people, most of them survivors of the 1906 earthquake listened in silence as she began with "The Last Rose of Summer," then sang along as she ended with "Auld Lang Syne."
Ancestors we will never know, presage feelings we can never have; now go forth and time travel on the web
This topic is best summarized with a question; what would it be worth to you to have a video of your great-grandparents? How might your children or grandchildren appreciate your efforts at personal archiving? [more inside]
(I've seen the term floating around for a bit, so I figured I'd write up a quick summary. My apologies if its too dumbed down; just trying not to leave anyone behind! Please note, most links NSFW due to language.) Hashtag rap, previously also known as yoda raps (noun, not verb), was officially coined by Kanye West on Funkmaster Flex's HOT97 radio show on November 2. The term--a nod to the way online posts are tagged (especially on Twitter, which Mr. West is a noted user of) using hash symbols in order to categorize the post's content--refers to the recent rise in rap lines which drop the usage of "like" and "as", and instead substituting those words with a pregnant pause (which is sometimes dispensed with), thus truncating what is normally a simile or metaphor into a sort of short setup followed by a (hopefully) funny punchline. [more inside]
Randolph Carter received an interesting proposition over email. A Nigerian politician offered the scholar a once in a lifetime business opportunity that could provide wealth for both parties if Carter could make a small initial investment. Carter needed the money to finance his research into obscure Polynesian cultures, especially references to a strange god named "Cthulhu"... [more inside]
The Manganiyar Seduction "The Manganiyars are a group of hereditary professional folk musicians from Rajasthan, India.">
Many people here in the U.S. have heard Willie Nelson's Christmas song, Pretty Paper (first made famous by Roy Orbison). But few know that it was based on a disabled man who sold pencils and paper in front of Leonard's Department Store (the one with its own subway). Or was it a blind couple? His name has been lost to history even as he is immortalized in song.
OMG CHRISTMAS KITTY. Move over Maru, the internet has a new cat sensation: Linus! He taps things. He licks things. . He apologizes to chairs. And sometimes he wears little costumes (wait for the end).
Flickr user ElectroSpark collects and shares “random bits of vintage ephemera from mid-century vacationers,” with many in the form of charming round-cornered Kodachromes. In particular, his Fairs & Expos set with its collection of holiday snapshots from Brussels ’58, New York ’64 and Expo ’67 in Montreal, are all from a by-gone era. The collection includes both vintage graphics and photos.
Evocative photographs by Evgenia Arbugaeva of "nomadic tribes of reindeer herders in my homeland, the Republic of Yakutia, which is located in eastern Siberia." You can read more about the indigenous peoples of Arctic Russia here (as you might guess, the outlook isn't rosy), and if you're curious and want more links, there's a zillion of 'em here.
Originally published in Guitar Player magazine in 1990, here is Jas Obrect's interview: Ry Cooder – Talking Country Blues and Gospel -- I only wish it was online when I made my Dark was the Night post. Now is it is part of the Jas Obrect Music Archive, where you can also find ''Rollin’ and Tumblin' '': The Story of a Song (See also Hambone Wille Newbern - Roll and Tumble Blues for the first recording of those lyrics) -- not to mention Jerry Garcia: The Complete 1985 Interview and Bob Dylan’s ''Highway 61 Revisited'': Mike Bloomfield v. Johnny Winter and Blues Origins: Spanish Fandango and Sebastopol among many, many others. There is quite the cornucopia of interesting, informative music articles there. Check it out--you will dig it.
While elusive on broadcast or cable television, YouTube has the holiday specials you're looking for. John Denver & The Muppets: A Christmas Together (Part 1 2 3 4 5 6). The Christmas Toy (Part 1 2 3 4 5). A Muppet Family Christmas (Part 1 2 3 4 5).
"Pwned by the Owner: What Happens When You Steal A Hacker's Computer" is a DEFCON presentation by Zoz.
Then That's What They Called Music is a series of posts on the Onion AV Club where writer Nathan Rabin (previously) listens to all of the NOW! That's What I Call Music CDs from 1999 onwards. The essays read like a history of a forgotten world, reminding you of terrible yet infectious pop tunes, and are full of great links, snappy writing and one man's struggle to deal with why the Black Eyed Peas, the most corporate band in America, are so popular. [more inside]
For many years the BBC had a tradition of showing a dramatisation of a classic ghost story at Christmas. This tradition is being continued this year with Whistle and I'll Come to You being shown tonight staring John Hurt. An adaptation of the same classic MR James story was shown in 1968 staring Michael Hordern beginning the tradition (1, 2, 3). [more inside]
Stop and smell the roses. In this time of hectic preparation for year's end, last minute Christmas shopping, wrapping, baking etc. let us not forget the gift of idleness and its endearing virtue. Some may disagree, but what is the use of progress if it fails to offer time for relaxation and contemplation? Sit back, relax and enjoy your time off from the daily toil. Christmas is upon us with the message of peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. (thanks be unto the Presurfer for this Christmas gift) [more inside]
Tom Scholefield (a.k.a. Konx-om-Pax after a publication by Crowley) is a Glasgow-based artist who works in a number of different media. Much of his work is in a colourful quasi-futuristic style he calls hyperreal. A lot of his work is in collaboration with musicians, either to create cover art or music videos. He also DJs, and has made several mixes available.
Koolaid Man in Second Life: “Maybe the Internet is for me what Paris in the 20s was for Joyce, Hemingway, and Gertrude Stein or New York in 50s was for Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg.” Jon Rafman (previously with the 9eyes Google Streetview blog) gives guided tours of Secondlife, and records some of his experiences. Being related to Secondlife, some content is naturally not work safe. [more inside]
Pope’s child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims. Pope Benedict XVI said this week that as recently as the 1970's, pedophilia was "theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,” but conceded that in 2010 it's gotten pretty bad, and brought "humiliation" on the church. Understandingly, victims feel differently.
"Two New York City men feel a tremendous responsibility to respond properly when they mysteriously receive hundreds of letters addressed to Santa Claus at their Chelsea apartment." [more inside]
It is late on Christmas Eve in Hong Kong; scarcely an hour to go before the 25th. I'm unsure how accurate some of these are, but no matter, it's the spirit that counts: Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.
Fritz Leiber Jr. was born 100 years ago today. An actor (and son of an actor) and writer, he is best known for his characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser (old school website). Project Gutenberg has some stories. Previously on Metafilter. [more inside]
World's Oldest Optical Illusion Found? A 15,000 year old piece of an atlatl (spear chucker) shows definite signs of being a Gestalt shift optical illusion (as demonstrated here, here, and in the classic duck/rabbit picture). Although not as well defined as modern optical illusions (like the really tripped out Neave Strobe), it likely demonstrates a stage of cognitive awareness in human psychological development.